Actor Richard Thomas turns 63 today, June 13, 2014.
It’s not just the date of his birth; it’s also the date of his birthmark. Oh, I could have been classy and not made that joke, but I couldn’t resist.
And because I always do my research, I did a Google search on “Richard Thomas mole” and “Richard Thomas birthmark.” I discovered that Google autofills in the word “removed” after that search phrase, as in “Richard Thomas mole removed.” Apparently people are clamoring to know why he didn’t get that mole removed. And you wouldn’t believe the online discussions. “It’s so gross!” say some. “No, it’s sexy,” say others. Initially I felt smug and superior to these morons and their debate about something so stupid—but I’m writing about the mole too, so am I really any better?
In 1974, Mego toys marketed a John-Boy doll, which came with the birthmark included! I remember finding that hilarious at the time. As you can see in the photo, they didn’t take any pains to make Mama, Grandma, or Mary Ellen look like the real actors. No siree, but someone sure paid careful attention to that mole and made certain it was on the correct cheek (his left).
Admit it, you want one of these John-Boy “action figures.” Check eBay—as of today, there was a John-Boy head for only $17.95. It’s cheaper than getting a whole doll. Just screw it onto that extra Ken-doll body you’ve got lying around.
You can see the commercial for the “Waltons Country Home” doll set below. (Sorry for the terrible quality). The commercial voiceover gets the character names wrong, referring to “Mom and Pop” and “Ellen.” But that doesn’t matter, because the real reason to buy this is for John Boy’s mole.
The Waltons Country Home
Is happy as can be
’Cause it’s filled with lovin’ people
Who are one fine family.
Oh, they’re good and kind and fair and strong.
They always try to get along.
You’ll never want to roam
From the Waltons Country Home.
Now that we’ve dealt with that, let’s move on to the topic this post is supposed to be about, Richard Thomas the actor. Thomas began his acting career in 1958. In 1969, he co-starred in the film Last Summer with a young Barbara Hershey—I recommend watching this coming-of-age movie if you have the chance.
In 1971, he first appeared in the role that would really bring him fame, John-Boy Walton, in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (a TV movie that served as the pilot for The Waltons). He continued in the role for 123 episodes from 1972 to 1978. Then Thomas decided to leave the series; consequently, John-Boy’s plane got shot down over the Europe during World War II. Could John-Boy be dead? Had the show been narrated by a ghost all that time? No, after being missing for awhile, John-Boy turned up again, played by another actor. But it just wasn’t the same, and new John-Boy sort of faded into the background. Fortunately, Thomas returned to reprise his role as John-Boy in A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1993), A Walton Wedding (1995), and A Walton Easter (1997).
Thomas’s career didn’t begin and end with The Waltons. He has appeared onstage (including on Broadway), in numerous TV movies (including Stephen King’s It), as a guest star on series like Law & Order: SVU, and in the 2009 film Taking Woodstock.
So there you have it: Richard Thomas, the man and his mole.
- Spin Again Sunday: The Waltons (1974) (Embarrassing Treasures)